Lethal Balance (Sons of the Survivalist 2)

lethal balanceHis name means hunter.

Once the best assassin in black ops, Cazador is now the best at saving lives. His path has changed from seeking bloody vengeance to running a health clinic in Rescue, Alaska.

He will never again risk loving someone he can’t protect.
His mother and sister were murdered in front of him, his fiancée slaughtered in a war zone. Despite his popularity with women, he’s determined to remain unattached. His heart can bear no more loss. Unfortunately, the universe isn’t listening.

First, his brother hires JJ, a fiery-haired, tough cop who lives on the edge of danger and has the biggest heart of anyone he knows. And then, his disreputable past returns in the shape of an adorable, foul-mouthed nine-year-old daughter. Now he has two loved ones to protect. An impossible task, because…

Life is dangerous. Especially in Alaska.

—                          —                          —

Lethal Balance is the second book in the Sons of Survivalist series by the amazing author Cherise Sinclair. She been a one-click author for me since I read her first book many years ago, and I continue to love her work and look forward to each novel she writes.

This series is sent in the Alaksan wilderness, and features rugged, alpha, ex-military heroes. Caz is strong, sexy and dominant, even though no BDSM play takes place. His backstory has a huge impact on his ability to develop a relationship with police officer JJ, an Alaskan newcomer, and is something that he has to work through throughout the story.

JJ is amazing. I love how Ms. Sinclair balanced her personality; she can be a tough-as-nails cop and a sensual woman, and a caring surrogate mother to Regan.

One thing that I have noticed is that the main characters in this series seem to be too …. perfect? complete? one-dimensional? There is very clearly a us versus them mentality with the H/h and bad guys which doesn’t reflect the conflicted, impersonal people we all are and simplifies plot lines. In all, I think this world seems a little flat, with everything always tied up in a neat little bow, and the main characters never making mistakes.

Lethal Balance was a solid read and clearly sets up the following two (and presumably final) books in this series. While I can’t put my finger on what it is, this author does seem to be struggling to find her stride in a traditional romance book. I cannot put down her erotic / BDSM series, and yet both “Sons” books I had to push myself to finish reading. I will still read the following two because I like this author and want to finish it out, but they don’t draw me in.

* * *

xx

Most Anticipated Titles of 2020

Even though I have been in a bit of a book slump lately, I am still anticipating novels from my favourite authors in the coming year. Hopefully at that point I will not feel so burnt out, but even so, I am a sucker for a good series so I know that those titles will suck me in!

So, in no particular order, here are the books I am most excited for in the coming year!

1 – Vendetta Road by Christine Feehan: expected publication January 28, 2020.

(Torpedo Ink Series #3)

cover_370

Isaak “Ice” Koval is on a club mission when he sees a woman who stops him dead in his tracks. Soleil is a sweet, sexy, girl-next-door type. She’s an innocent who should be nowhere near the rough-and-ready world of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club. But Ice knows Soleil belongs with him mdash; and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.

After a life of drifting from one thing to the next, Soleil Brodeur is determined to take control of her life. When her breakup with her manipulative fiancé turns ugly, Soleil searches out the stranger who offered her a lifeline and ends up in a Las Vegas biker bar where she meets a gorgeous, dangerous man straight out of her most secret fantasies.

High on adrenaline, she finds herself falling faster than she thought possible. But Soleil knows little about the territory she’s stumbled into, and even less about what it really means to be Ice’s woman…

2. Twisted Hearts by Cora Reilly: expected publication January 7, 2020.

(Camorra Chronicles #5)

Savio Falcone has a few non-negotiable rules when it comes to girls.
They need to be hot as f*ck. Spread their legs without much prompting. And leave as soon as the fun is over. Preferably minus any bitching or tears. With his easy-going bad boy attitude, a last name that rules over Las Vegas and a body to die for, girls have always been at Savio’s disposal.

Unfortunately, the hottest girl in Vegas comes with a price Savio isn’t willing to pay. For Savio to get Gemma he’d need to seal the deal and put a ring on her finger. Settling down is out of the question, no matter how hot a piece of ass waits at the altar.

Gemma Bazzoli has had a crush on Savio from the first moment she came face to face with his arrogant smile, but for him she was always his best friend’s annoying little sister—until her hard-earned curves catch even his attention.

But Savio likes it easy, and Gemma is anything but. When she’s promised to another man, Gemma resigns herself to the fact that the man she’s wanted all her life, doesn’t want her badly enough.

Savio has to decide how much work he’s willing to invest, because bending the rules in his usual style might not be enough to get the girl that haunts his wet dreams.

3. Shadow Flight by Christine Feehan: expected publication May 5, 2020.

(Shadow Riders #5)

Nicoletta Gomez was a terrified teenager when Taviano Ferraro and his brother saved her life. Ever since, she’s been trying to rise above what was done to her, molding herself into a survivor under the protective eyes of the Ferraro family. All the while, she’s been falling hopelessly in love with the man who knows her darkest secrets….

With one look, Taviano knew that Nicoletta was his, just as he felt their shadows connect. But no matter how much he wanted to claim her, he knew she needed time to become her own woman. But when Nicoletta once again finds herself in the sights of dangerous men, a split second decision has Taviano breaking all of the Ferraro family’s rules to keep her safe. And as far as he’s concerned, the reward is more than worth the risk.

4. Bound by the Past by Cora Reilly: expected publication spring 2020.

(Bound in Blood Mafia Chronicles #7)

A new novel featuring Dante and Valentina. More details to be announced closer to publication.

5. Titan’s Addiction by Anna Zaires: expected publication February 5, 2020.

(Wall Street Titan #2)

One determined billionaire. One wary cat lady. One queen-sized bed.

Let the games begin.

6. Leopard’s Rage by Christine Feehan: expected publication November 3, 2020.

(Leopard People #12)

7. Desolation Road by Christine Feehan: expected publication June 30, 2020.

(Torpedo Ink Series #4)

DesolationTorpedo Ink is Aleksei “Absinthe” Solokov’s whole life. They’re his brothers, his family—his everything. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting something that only belongs to him. That’s why the tough biker has spent the last six weeks at the library, reading every book he can get his hands on and watching the prim and proper librarian who makes his blood rush.

For the past six weeks, Scarlet Foley has been fantasizing about the handsome, tattooed man whose eyes follow her every move. She senses he’s dangerous. She wants him to get close enough to touch. She wishes she could let him know the real woman, not the one she pretends to be. But Scarlet has a plan to carry out, and she can’t afford any distractions.

Absinthe is well aware that Scarlet is hiding something. She’s a puzzle he intends to solve, piece by intoxicating piece.

8. Love Without Borders by Angela Braniff: expected publication April 28, 2020.

angieFrom the founder of This Gathered Nest YouTube channel, an uplifting story of Angela Braniff’s unusual path to becoming the mother to seven children through various methods of adoption and biological approaches, encouraging women and mothers to embrace the unique purpose that God has put in their lives.

Angela’s love for life and her family radiates through everything she does. The Braniff household includes their two biological daughters, Kennedy, 12, and Shelby 10; Rosie, 7, who was adopted from China with Down syndrome; Noah, 7, adopted from Congo; Jonah 5, adopted domestically; and finally, Ivy and Amelia, their one year old twins who were adopted as embryos, and implanted in Angela, who gave birth to them. In fact, after the book was finished, they joyfully welcomed a new baby into their home, Benjamin, through adoption, making them now a family of ten!

Love Without Borders shares Angela’s relatable, humorous, and honest view of motherhood. Angela chronicles her journey to discover God’s purpose for her life. For years she walked the safe, expected path, until one day she could feel God calling her to boldly step out and follow him into new places, which led her to raise a large, non-traditional family that looked different than she ever imagined.

It was a winding path to motherhood, complete with heartbreak from failed adoptions, challenging pregnancies, and secondary infertility, but through it all Angela found the unique adventure God had for her. She has shared her family’s stories on her popular YouTube channel, This Gathered Nest, and now invites us in to go deeper and listen to where God might be calling us to go and who we’ve been tasked with loving, no matter how unusual (or just plain crazy) it may sound! The beauty of God’s plan is he uses imperfect people to bring about perfectly beautiful stories.

9. Darker Than Love by Anna Zaires and Charmaine Pauls: expected publication January 28, 2020.

48559380._SY475_Once upon a cold, dark night, a Russian killer stole me from an alley.
I’m dangerous, but he is lethal.
I escaped once.
He won’t let me do it twice.

The revenge is his.
The betrayal is mine.
But so are the lies to protect the ones I love.

We’re cut from the same twisted cloth. Both merciless. Both damaged.
In his embrace, I find hell and heaven, his cruelly tender touch destroying and uplifting me at once.

They say a cat has nine lives, but an assassin has just one.
And Yan Ivanov now owns mine.

10. Lethal Game by Christine Feehan: expected publication March 3, 2020.

(Ghostwalkers #16)

lethalWhen Malichai Fortunes attacks a problem, he does it full force–a habit that earns the GhostWalker a painful injury and a forced vacation in San Diego, California. With nothing but physical therapy on the horizon, Malichai is starting to get restless…until a striking blue-eyed blonde makes all his senses come alive.

Amaryllis is kind and warm and sees beyond Malichai’s rough exterior, but he can tell there’s something she’s hiding. Her innate healing abilities indicate she might be a GhostWalker–albeit an untrained one. Malichai doesn’t think their crossing paths is anything more than coincidence, but he can sense that one wrong word could send Amaryllis running.

When strange events at his temporary retreat put Malichai on high alert, he knows he won’t be able to deal with the threat and keep his woman safe in his weakened state. But calling in his brothers means telling Amaryllis what he really is, and revealing that he knows the truth about her too.

xx

Dark Celebration (Dark #14)

64028._SY475_

Dark Celebration is a special book within the Dark / Carpathian series. Rather than featuring one couple, it is a reunion story that features chapters on most of the characters we have been introduced to so far, as well as some hints as to the upcoming heroes/heroines. And it takes place at Christmas, so it is perfect for my December reviews 🙂

I have read this book multiple times, and each time I am astonished at how seamlessly Ms. Feehan writes. There was plenty of opportunity for this book to feel choppy with some many key characters, but it remains fluid and perfectly balanced. Nothing felt like it was forced in for the sake of including a specific individual.

Dark Celebration is one of the funnier books in the Carpathian series. There are cooking disasters, kids, and the “jolly red elf”. There is also danger, mystery, intrigue, adventure and lots of sex.

It was fun to get an update on couples who rarely show up as secondary characters in this series. I personally love to see when characters interact with each other in a world. I am not a fan of romance where the hero/heroine seem to exist in a bubble, devoid of other people.

If you are looking for romance, with a bit of comedy and action, this is the perfect Christmas story to pick up… something that is still themed, but doesn’t shove Christmas down your throat. And hey, if you are new to the series, you might be inspired to pick up book one, Dark Prince, and start there.

* * * * *

xx

Damage (Collateral Damage #2)

damageWe’re a match made in hell, Stefan and I.

He took me to exact his revenge. I went from being a pawn to my father to being a pawn to Stefan. The only difference is I have a ring the size of a boulder on my finger and a husband I don’t want.

And the hardest part is I thought he was different. I thought I was falling in love.

I guess my father was right. I’m not a very smart girl.

Stefan is a powerful man. He doesn’t play nice, not if you’re his enemy. But I’ve learned one thing about my husband.

He takes care of what’s his.
And I am his.

His enemies have become my enemies, but he’ll never let anyone hurt me. He’s fiercely protective. It’s the predator inside that scares me.

—                          —                          —

Damage picks up immediately after the cliff-hanger ending of CollateralI thoroughly enjoyed this book as well and also read it in an evening, but I wasn’t as in love with it as I was the first in the series.

The tone of Damage is still dark, and the couple actually as sex in this book! Gasp!

There were times that I felt like Gabriela was too stupid to live. In her defence, she is very young – just 18 – and in completely surreal circumstances. So I tried to remember that and it felt me sink back into the story.

Overall I enjoyed it and was happy with where the author leaves off this couple, but I felt really poorly for a couple of secondary characters. I seriously hope that poor cousin Rafe one day gets to be the hero of his own story.

* * * *

xx

Collateral (Collateral Damage #1)

collateral

Gabriela

Stefan Sabbioni showed up in my bedroom on my sixteenth birthday. Uninvited, he stood in the shadows smelling of whiskey and death and wrapped a broken, blood-crusted necklace around my neck.

I thought he’d strangle me with it.

That night, he left a message for my father. He said he’d be back to take something precious.

I never delivered that message, though. I wonder if things would be different if I had because now, two years later, he’s back. And he’s not hiding in any shadows.

He’s come to make good on his promise.
He’s back to take that something precious.
Me.

Stefan

Marchese is the manipulator of my family’s tragedy. I won’t just bring him to his knees. I’ll bury him for what he did.

Taking his daughter is only the beginning. I’ll do it knowing I’m starting a war. I’ll do it knowing my enemies will become his allies. They’ll stop at nothing to destroy me and he’ll stop at nothing to get her back.

I’ve never shied away from war, though. I’m not one to play nice and I don’t share my toys. I’ll demolish you if you touch what’s mine.

And she is most definitely mine.

—                         —                         —

Collateral is the first book I have read from Natasha Knight. It was recommended to me online and the blurbs drew me in. I have found one of my new favourite series!

Collateral is a dark romance, mafia romance novel. Gabriela and Stefan start as enemies, and, well, I can’t quite say the are lovers by the end of this book, but hopefully they will be by the end of book number two.

Gabriela is being forced into marriage with Stefan as he seeks revenge for his brother and father’s deaths, at the hands of Gabriela’s father. Natasha Knight is one of the few authors who is writing in this trope and in possession of actual talent.

The majority of this story takes place in the south of Italy, and as I stare out my window at snow, I am more than a little jealous of Knight’s descriptions of warm weather, turquoise water and soft sandy beaches.

I finished reading this book in an evening and cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel, which thankfully, is already released! I definitely will be checking out more books from this author ASAP.

* * * * *

xx

Wall Street Titan (Alpha Zone 1)

47966930._SY475_

A billionaire who wants a perfect wife…

At thirty-five, Marcus Carelli has it all: wealth, power, and the kind of looks that leave women breathless. A self-made billionaire, he heads one of the largest hedge funds on Wall Street and can take down major corporations with a single word. The only thing he’s missing? A wife who’d be as big of an achievement as the billions in his bank account.

A cat lady who needs a date…

Twenty-six-year-old bookstore clerk Emma Walsh has it on good authority that she’s a cat lady. She doesn’t necessarily agree with that assessment, but it’s hard to argue with the facts. Raggedy clothes covered with cat hair? Check. Last professional haircut? Over a year ago. Oh, and three cats in a tiny Brooklyn studio? Yep, she’s got those.

And yes, fine, she hasn’t had a date since… well, she can’t recall. But that part is fixable. Isn’t that what the dating sites are for?

A case of mistaken identity…

One high-end matchmaker, one dating app, one mix-up that changes everything… Opposites may attract, but can this last?

—                         —                         —

* I received a free ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Wall Street Titan is the first book I have read from Anna Zaires that was not a dark romance, so I wasn’t if I would enjoy reading a regular romance as much I love her darker stories. Luckily, it was awesome!

Marcus is a total alpha male, and very dominant, even if he is not “dark”. I feel like the billionaire romance genre cannot help but compare every book to Fifty Shades and Christian Grey, and I am happy to report that Marcus completely stands on his own. Marcus and Emma are a cute couple with instant chemistry, much to their chagrin.

Let’s be honest though. The real star of this book is Mr. Puffs. The shenanigans he gets into is hilarious and reminds me of my own not-so-little furball.

Wall Street Titan is the first in a series, so expect to wait a few months before Marcus and Emma meet their happily ever after.

I highly recommend this book and will definitely be one-clicking the sequel when it is available for preorder.

* * * * *

xx

Leopard’s Wrath (Leopard People #11)

cover_370

He’s a man used to getting what he wants, but she’s not the type of woman to take things lying down….

Born into a life of crime, Mitya Amurov has had a hard life, and his leopard has developed into a feral beast to protect him. It’s constantly trying to claw its way to the surface—until a chance encounter with a stranger instantly calms the predator inside him. While Mitya wants Ania desperately, it’s only a matter of time before his past catches up with him, and he’d rather die than put her in danger. But Ania is dealing with dangers of her own….

Considering her family’s history, Ania Dover should know better than to get mixed up with a criminal like Mitya, but she just can’t stay away. Something wild in her responds to his presence. A need so strong it scares her. But she’s not sure she can accept what he’s offering. Ania has always been an independent woman, and Mitya expects to be obeyed in all things.

Even with her body calling out for his, Ania won’t let anything stop her from settling a deadly score years in the making—not even the man who wants to claim her as his mate.

—                       —                       —

I have been a huge fan of Ms. Feehan for nearly two decades now and even though I have outgrown some of her series as a reader, others I have thankfully grown into. The Leopard People series is definitely included in the latter category and Leopard’s Wrath is an amazing new addition to the existing canon.

I really enjoyed Ania and Mitya and the developments their story brought to the series. LW wrapped up some arcing plot points that have carried through the last several books, while at the same time, creating new threads that will clearly be carried forward in future.

This was a really emotional book. I wasn’t expecting some of that heartache going into it, and to be honest, there was one late night of reading when I cried myself to sleep. I could relate to Ania’s troubles on a personal connection, making it difficult to separate the character’s emotions from my own. I love how this led to a few emotionally explosive scenes, some of my favourites in this series, and how Mitya and Ania dealt with it.

Mitya is a super sexy, Russian lead character and I have to give him the title of my latest book boyfriend! Though, Sevastyan has certainly piqued my interest and I really really hope that he stars in the next instalment.

* * * * *

xx

How to be Happy (or at least less sad)

23281830

Author and illustrator Lee Crutchley brings his lively interactive approach to a little-discussed but very common issue: the struggle with depression and anxiety.

Through a series of supportive, surprising, and engaging prompts, HOW TO BE HAPPY (OR AT LEAST LESS SAD) helps readers see things in a new light, and rediscover simple pleasures and everyday joy…or at least feel a little less sad. By turns a workbook, trusted friend, creative outlet, security blanket, and secret diary, the pages of this book will offer solace, distraction, engagement, a fresh perspective, and hopeful new beginnings—for readers of all ages and walks of life.

—                         —                         —

I haven’t been very active online lately. The title of this post might give a hint as to why. Depression has been a constant struggle for me this year. I’m not really sure why, given that I’ve been trying to address it, and a lot of good things have happened for me this year, but depression is like most diseases – you can’t control when it attacks.

How to be less happy is a wonderful tool that has been working really well for me. As well – or better – than any of the tools professionals have given me so far.

This book has text broken down into small chunks that are not overwhelming. It is very interactive, and has many different ways to engage with the ideas presented. I think the should appeal to artsy and non-artsy folks alike.

If you are anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, or just feeling lost in their life, I highly encourage you to buy a copy of this book. Below, I have included snapshots of a few of the pages to give you an idea of the types of exercises you will do as you move through it.

71zcjxI3nqL

713IJ0JESsL

71JqUs2fBpL

* * * * *

xx

Secret Obsession (Cordova Empire #3)

secret obsession

Layla

From the moment of my birth I’ve been rejected by those who should have loved me, labeled as a freak because of my birthmark, bullied and tormented because I look different. When you’re told every day that you’re ugly and worthless you start to believe it. I managed to escape my malicious family and build a life for myself, but they’d broken something inside of me. I’m afraid to go outside, afraid to be around large groups of people, afraid of any type of confrontation and my panic attacks have left me pretty much house bound. If it wasn’t for my online friends I probably would have given up on life long ago. But there is one special friend, a man by the name of Mark, who keeps me going. He’s brave, smart, strong, and kind…and has no idea that I’m secretly in love with him.

Mark

Once I was a good man with a perfect life. I had a job I loved training dogs for the police with my wife, had a great family who filled our lives with laughter, and I woke up every day with a smile on my face. I was completely content in my blissful ignorance. I had no idea about the criminal world that thrived all around me, no idea that I’d made some powerful enemies who do anything to destroy me. Including killing my wife. I swore my revenge, and got it, but in the process I lost my soul. It was during these dark times, after my vengeance was fulfilled and I was drifting in anguish, that a beautiful soul rescued me from my own personal hell. I tried to keep my distance, tried to shield her from the villains of the world, myself included, but the evil that surrounds me wouldn’t be denied. Despite my best attempts to keep her safe, someone is out to destroy Layla, and I’m the only one who can protect her.

But who’s going to save her from me?

—                         —                         —

Secret Obsession is the third book in the Cordova mafia series, written by Ann Mayburn. This series would best be enjoyed if read in order, but each could be read as a standalone.

Ms. Mayburn is an excellent writer who has crafted an intricate and detailed world in for the Cordovas. It is linked to two of her other series, the Iron Horse MC and Submissive’s Wish.

Unfortunately, Secret Obsession did not live up to the expectations that she has previously built. SO felt much shorter than the previous two books, and the storyline was simpler, predictable. In addition, there was less interaction between the main couple and their friends and family, compared to the first two books.

Mark and Layla do not engage in a physical relationship until about halfway through the novel. This can be done really well and make complete sense for the characters in some novels, but felt like wasted time in this instance. Mark’s inability to accept his love for Layla grew tedious long before he overcame it.

Overall, this is not a book I enjoyed or would read again.

*

xx

OITNB

GUEST_4828e296-efe5-4d70-8836-4161a2dabec5

Well, I just finished binge-watching the final season of Orange Is The New Black. I wasn’t planning on writing about it, but now that I am finished, I just had to talk about it.

I loved this season.

The producers, writers and actors did justice to all the story that had come before in the show. This final season was very well done, IMHO, and is a great example. So, so many shows end terribly – I think it is the one thing that most series have in common – and there have been some fantastic failures in recent high-profile series. GoT, I’m thinking of you …

Season seven of OITNB was well balanced between new storylines and tying up loose ends. It didn’t feel too easy, or too neat. Some characters ended up in great places, others still trying to make a life for themselves behind bars, and a couple met the Big Guy upstairs, but each ending felt right to me.

My favourite new storyline was the incorporation of current political and cultural affairs in the US, with illegal immigration, Dreamers and immigration detention centres incorporated into the plot in a creative and surprising way. This aspect definitely made an impact on me, even though I am not American.

Throughout the season, old characters from earlier seasons made cameos and it all flowed perfectly naturally. There wasn’t anything that felt disjointed or forced.

I was surprised that the show did not make any reference to Piper writing her memoir post-prison, but I also did not feel I missed out on any particular storyline.

I am sad to see a good show ending, but mostly just happy that it ended on a high note, rather than concluding unsatisfactorily or taking a long, slow march towards small screen death.

If you haven’t checked out Orange Is The New Black before, I highly recommend you do so now that the series is concluded and you won’t have any waiting periods for new episodes. I warn you though, you might need to clear your calendar for some solid binge time.

Orange-Is-the-New-Black-cast-Zelda-left-and-Piper-right-1980913

I have always meant to read the book that this show is based off of, and never got around to it. Not that I don’t have a new season to look forward to, maybe this is the perfect time to pick it up from my library.

* * * * *

xx